A new year, a new hope

New Year’s resolutions have never been my thing. Of course, I have goals, but they have nothing to do with a January 1st deadline.

I have dreams, but those are literally farfetched things that won’t happen (e.g. Grow wings and fly to Brazil).

I do have hopes. So here is my list of hopes for the New Year.

I hope I won’t fall down too often, and if and when I do, I hope I won’t beat myself up too much when I pick myself up and keep going forward.

I hope I will be able to let go of the little things and enjoy the moment without worrying so much.
1I hope I can see the bright side of everything and everyone this year.
2I hope I can just be happy, and stop hurting myself, or letting others in to hurt me.

I hope I will have a full day of just smiles, and laughter.

I hope I can grow closer to my sisters.
34I hope I have new adventures this year! Amazing adventures.

I hope I don’t lose sight of myself and my weirdness, because it’s what makes me me.
5I hope that I don’t wonder once this year, ‘What if?’
6I hope for this year to be better, in work, in life, in love, and I hope that I brought the tools from last year forward, so I can do these things.

I hope Joe and I keep getting better with every bump and bruise. I hope we keep becoming more awesome.

I have hope that everyone’s years will be better, and that we all will have an amazing year ahead for families, all our friends and us.

~ Andreah

Farewell

So I lived, until recently, 2 and ½ hours away.

The decision to move back was not under any circumstances an easy one. We made a life there; we met new people who became like family, made new friends, reconnected with some of Joe’s old ones, and grew stronger as a couple through all the ups and downs. We built a small, but meaningful life. One that we already miss and will always miss, and this is my goodbye, for now.
We will always go back and visit, and we will keep the ties there as strong as possible. Here are the things I am going to miss:

1. The shop.
It was an amazing opportunity for Joe, following his dream, and a new start. The people we met there are a large eclectic group of people from all walks of life, and each and every one of them taught us something, and helped us grow in new and interesting ways. I will miss them all so much.

2. Joe’s family.
Joe’s family helped us so much while we were getting our life going, always there when we needed them, and even when I tried to do it all myself, they were there helping and pushing us to get on our feet. They love us unconditionally, and I know, even though we are far away, they still support and love us.

3. Our crapartment.

Our little livingroom

Our little living room

It was small, had leaky pipes, broken tiles, and the hallway always smelled of smoke from our across-the-way neighbour. It was our first place, our first home that we built and made ours.

Our little Kitchen

Our little kitchen

It will always be our first home, and a wonderful and cozy one. We got luckier than most with this one, but I will always miss it, and wish we could go back.

4. The scenery.
Where we lived was beautiful, or at least the country was. Big full rolling hills, the colours in the fall, the beautiful lakes, and the almost untouched forests. I know we will see it again, but I will definitely miss it.
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I know we will visit, but as with any change this one was and is hard. I wish we could go back, but I know that with Joe by my side where ever we go will be home, and whatever we do will be where we are supposed to be.

~ Andreah

Much needed

There’s something to be said for taking a break.

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go (don't worry, I brought clothes too...)

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go (don’t worry, I brought clothes too…)

A breather.

Oh, hi, beautiful double bed and room all to myself.

Oh, hi, beautiful double bed and room all to myself.

A few steps back.

Hotel pillow mints have NOTHING on Laura and her welcome handmade card and wee box of chocolate

Hotel pillow mints have NOTHING on Laura and her welcome handmade card and wee box of chocolate

A rest.

The view out my window

The view out my window

And this past weekend I got to do just that. I got to go away, kid-free, husband-free, responsibility-free, and go up north a ways to a beautiful bay and take 48 hours to myself.

The cottage was beautiful – four bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and my absolute favourite feature, a wrap-around porch (my dream house has a wrap-around porch).

Adirondack chairs on a wrap-around porch in cottage country. Heaven.

Adirondack chairs on a wrap-around porch in cottage country. Heaven.

The itinerary was ideal and perfect – hang out with five other Christian ladies, eat, drink wine, enjoy each other’s company, play games, get silly, run, sleep, read, write and do a bible study (we focused on Loving Well by Beth Moore – I really enjoyed it).

Gift journal from Laura, because she loves us.

Gift journal from Laura, because she loves us.

The weather was perfect – hot sun and cool breeze on a black sand beach. Glorious.

Does this look like the end of September? It didn't feel like it.

Does this look like the end of September? It didn’t feel like it.

And it was just what I needed.

How I spent my (weekend) vacation - laying and sunbathing and reading and writing on the beach

How I spent my (weekend) vacation – laying and sunbathing and reading and writing on the beach

I needed some grown-up time. I needed time to cry with friends. I needed time to hug crying friends. I needed time to pray in a circle of women that get it. I needed to connect with other mothers of littles and biggers, ones who have been where I’ve been, who are where I am, who are living the life I aspire to.

Sunset with incredible women

Sunset with incredible women

I met a marathon goddess who has defied great personal loss and is filled with more strength than I ever knew existed. My heart breaks for her and is in awe of her.

I met a stay-at-home mom who is living a little life, a life much smaller than she dreams of, yet does it with such grace. I hope my little life looks half as graceful as hers.

I met a mother of FOUR, including twins, who has her SECOND book being published. She gives me hope that the drips and scribbles of my writing could eventually, one day, make it past my computer and my notebooks and live in published form without sacrificing the family I love so much.

I got to know a woman of God, of faith, of hard work in the church, of solid marriage and soul. She is working so hard to have balance at home and in love and in life and she’s successful most of the time and I hope that one day I can work in faith again and have that balance.

And I got to fall in love even more with my dear friend Laura, the mastermind of the weekend, the woman who brought the six of us together, who was brave enough to lead a bible study and loving enough to be the hostess with the mostess this weekend. THANK YOU.

I even snuck in a 8km run...in cottage country...at the beginning of fall...serious heaven.

I even snuck in a 8 km run…in cottage country…at the beginning of fall…serious heaven.

I got home last night, sleepy, content, missing my family, and restored for another round of this thing we call life (chaos, mayhem, bedlam).

There really is something to be said for a break. Hallelujah.

~ Julia

PS. GIANT shout-out of love to Ben who held the fort down for the 48 hours I gallivanted about. THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU. You rock. ❤

The one year feat!

In the world of epilepsy they calendar milestones in years, although to an epileptic a day could feel like a year. For instance, you lose your license when you have uncontrolled seizures of any kind, something about automobiles and seizures not mixing? I am not sure, but the MTO in Ontario states that if a person has been seizure-free for a year then they may reapply for their license.

 To this epileptic this year was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am proud to announce I am one year seizure FREEEEE. 

I thought, what better time to look back on where I was a year ago?  Most people were starting school again and I was facing starting a new medication and talking about whether surgery was in order to further find out WHY I was not responding to any medication. There was a theory that was not very popular with my neurologist – I could be possibly be taking too much medication. It was a scary thought, to be over medicated. How could that even be? Modern medicine teaches doctors to treat symptoms, but what if it is a vicious cycle of treating a symptom that is being caused from a medication with more medication?

So I made a decision. I was going to get healthy on my own, sorry Doc!

I was going cold turkey, people. I was…what the fuck was I doing? I was being bold? I was being brave? I did it for me! For future babies!  For Cody!  For my family. I did it so when I called in sick to work, it would be simple – I was just sick, get better! Rather than “Are you home alone? Do you need me to come over? When will Cody be there? Does your mom know?” Hey, I am not complaining – I put this in place. I told my workplace what I needed medically and they were all in. I guess I am just that darn special! I did it for so many reasons and I kicked this year’s ass.

How? Well, I said no. I said no to a lot of things. I said no to when I knew it was too much to handle, I said no to trivial small things. I stopped sweating the small stuff, and it really is all small stuff. I said yes to me. I said yes to going to bed early if I was tired, I said yes to the cues my body was giving me. I said yes to spending more time with people who supported me instead of tearing me down. Who were looking out for my well-being as well as their own. I have an AMAZING support system all around me.

I started to watch what chemicals I was putting into my body in terms of processed foods. I said yes to more whole foods and tried to get rid of as much processed crap.

Let me tell you this journey was not easy. I am a people pleasing person, I like to do what you want me to do, I like being asked to do things and being leaned on. But when my own health became backseat, I had to kick everyone out of the bus.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING THIS without the support of your neurologist. If you are reading this and think that this may be your case, then talk to your doctor first – do not throw out your medication because NO two epileptics are the same.

I commemorated my one year feat with a permanent reminder that I came out of the darkness – but I am not out of the woods yet. I am still very much an epileptic, and I can’t live life thinking I am invincible. Every decision I make, everywhere I go, everything I do, I am epileptic. I have epilepsy. BUT IT DOES NOT HAVE ME!

~ Jacqui

If you would like more information in regards to my journey, leave us a comment and I will be happy to email you.

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Can we try a little acceptance?

Remember the old saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’?

Well, I call bullshit.

It’s hard being plus-sized, and times don’t get any easier when younger generations seem to get harsher.

When you walk into a store, and hear people talk about you, your size and the way you look, it doesn’t hurt any less than when I was a kid and all my playground to high school bullies would comment on my size over and over again.

It hurts and the flashbacks aren’t any more fun than experiencing it the first time.

I am trying and working on loving myself, but when I hear from four teenage girls who I don’t even know, “Can she get any bigger?” I think it’s gone too far.

When you tell your child, while I am looking through the plus-sized section, not to eat too much because you don’t want to look like her, well I just say that goes too far, and although I don’t make a comment, and just try and brush it off, it still gets to me. It still hurts.

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

Made by epic designer Carol Rossetti

I just want to say one thing when people out in the world make me feel like a tiny insignificant speck of nothing – Screw you.

I like food, and although I am working on cutting down the fat, I love good, delicious, healthy-for-you food, and didn’t get this way by eating fast food. I got this way by having poor eating habits, not eating choices. I got this way by being severely depressed, wanting attention, and getting it through the wrong means. And yes, I am paying for it now, but I didn’t do anything to your child, you, or anyone around you, so why must you comment? Why comment on people’s lives, their weight, or anything else about them? Why can’t we all just be nice to each other regardless of what they look like, and why the hell can we not appreciate who they are?

That person who you are talking about? Yes, they may be overweight, but they can still hear you!

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

That person may be wearing outrageous colours, but maybe it makes them feel good, and what right do you have to comment on how they look?

Granted, I am a firm believer for dressing according to my body size, but just because I don’t think I can’t make a tube top work, doesn’t mean anything about you! It means that I can’t flaunt all of me yet. I will get there, and I will learn to love my body, but it doesn’t happen overnight and weight loss doesn’t happen in one swift moment. Trust me, I know.

But one thing that would probably make everyone’s lives a ton easier is to stop judging based on appearance.

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

Stop belittling other people because you think it makes you sound better than you are. One day those teenagers are going to learn what it feels like to be on the other side, and the next time I may actually say something. That mom in that store may one day have an overweight child and will learn to accept their faults and love them regardless.

I may not be able to teach you these lessons, but I hope one day we all can learn to accept faults in ourselves, because that’s where we should be looking first.

I do want to end this blog post on a high note – that no matter what I think of myself and no matter what anybody says, I know Joe thinks I am beautiful; he says it to me every morning when we wake up and every night before we fall asleep.

~ Andreah

“So, what’s new with you?”

This question has been posed to me a lot lately, and honestly things have been up in the air so I was usually too stumped to answer.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks that I didn’t want anyone to know until Joe and I had figured it out and decided what we were going to do. After the deadline we set for ourselves hit its mark this past weekend, we had our answer.

We are moving back home, for me at least.

We are leaving some family to move back to another, and this is one of the hardest decisions of our lives, but we are solid, together and we are going back with our eyes open.

But, here’s what I’m feeling.

I’m confused, hurt, scared, excited, happy, angry, and just stressing myself in the end, but what else is new?

I’m confused because I still don’t know if this is the right decision.

I’m hurt because I feel like I am hurting other people, which is not true, because seriously everyone has been supportive, awesome, and honest as to their opinions.

Excited because the sisters really are excited about me coming home.

Happy because Joe and I decided this, and decided this together.

Stressing myself out, because it’s me and I can get a lot melodramatic at things.

In the end, though, this decision is just going to lead us in another direction we just didn’t think of. Edison found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb, but he never once said he failed.
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I don’t think that this is a failure, this is not us running away, and this is not us being just scared.

This is just a decision we are making that is showing us a new route of possibilities.

Every big or small decision leads us to different roads and routes. Even Google maps has alternative routes to include things you may need or want to be a part of along the way.

We had to get to this decision as a couple, but Joe says that he came to this conclusion before me.

Joe says that, “The cards weren’t there, but we have a new hand and we will see how this hand plays out.”

I’m thankful for everyone who loves us. We know you will always love us no matter what.

~ Andreah

Dear Baby Stuehler

I met Ashley at work. At first we were co-workers, then friends. Now I like to think we are soul mates. At work we call her Smashley. She has become another sister to me. I bring her along on hikes, she is known by my nieces, sisters, and my  mom. She truly has become a soul mate of mine, and someone I look up to.  She has shown me how to be more confident in my own skin, she has been there with me through some pretty tough times and I am so honored that she is standing with me on my wedding day.

Ashley and her husband Marty are expecting their first bundle of joy – a baby girl. This week will be the last week of work for her before she goes on her maternity leave. This pregnancy has been anything but easy on Ashley – although she has been healthy, she has also been blessed with “morning” sickness, even though it lasts all day, heartburn, back and butt pain, hip pain…and caffeine withdrawal.

To send her off in true, loving, sisterhood fashion, I have decided to write a letter to the future love of her life – her baby girl. I hope one day she will read this, and know that even before she could love them – they loved her.

I love you Smash, and can’t wait to watch you become an amazing mother.

Every brunette need’s a blonde best friend ❤

 

Dear Baby Stuehler,

Welcome to the world!

I hope you realize that you are one of the luckiest babies as you are born into such a loving family. Your Grandparents, Uncles and Aunt all can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait for you to know how loved you are. 

Your mom has nurtured you since the beginning, and has has been anxiously awaiting your arrival. She is counting down the days until you arrive, preparing in every way. I wish you could see her face when she talks about you, all the worries for that moment melt away as she rubs her belly. I cannot say it enough – you are so loved.

Remember that as the years go on and you start to grow – your best interests are what she has in mind when she tells you that the shorts you are about to wear will not be worn out of the house, or that the makeup you have on is beyond too much.

When that first boy breaks your heart, it will be her shoulder you will cry on, as she promises you that the heartbreak won’t last. She will tell you how she met your Daddy, and she will tell you that one day the right one will come along.

She will be your shopping partner, your mentor and the wisest teacher you will ever come across. She will be your cheerleader and your coach. Your mom will be there for you when you call her late at night about anything – even if it is just to hear her voice.

Your Mother will teach you confidence, that I am sure of. She will teach you how to be a strong and compassionate woman, and to stand ever steadfast in who you are. She will teach you self love and self worth. She will teach you how to stand alone, and work as a partner.

Your mother is an amazing woman. She will love you even when you slam the door in her face and challenge her. She will love you when you sneak out or when you try to lie to her (just a suggestion…don’t…she knows everything!).

Baby Stuehler, the world you are being born into is not always kind, it can be quite scary, but that’s why you were given your Daddy. He is working so hard to make sure that you are provided for, and will always keep you safe.

You are his princess, his baby girl. When your dad talks about you, there is a twinkle in his eye. Everything he does is with you in mind. Your daddy will be your knight in shining armor. 

Your daddy will ward off boys who will try to steal your heart, he will be your confidante at times when you feel alone. He will battle you when you are a teenager, and side with your mother more times than he will with you (just let it happen, trust me it’s for the best).

Your daddy will teach you so many things you won’t know are useful at first, be careful to try and remember them all. One day these memories will be all you have.

Your daddy will be your first love, and your favorite dance partner whether in the kitchen or at your wedding. You will be always be his little girl. Your teenage years will be hard on your relationship, and you may break his heart. Don’t worry – he will still love you, and will always remember holding his little girl and kissing her bruises to make them better.

Baby girl, I can not wait to meet you. I can not wait to watch you grow up into a young lady. I can’t wait to listen to your mom brag of your accomplishments and look back with her on this moment when you were still in her belly giving her the worst heartburn. 

Your parents are two of the most amazing, compassionate, people I have ever known. They will do anything for their friends, and I can not wait to do the same for them. 

Welcome to the world Baby Stuehler. We have been waiting for you. 

 

Congratulations you two – I can’t meet your little one.

The expectant parents – Love you guys!

~ Jacqui

Roller coaster buddies

A lot has been going on in everyone’s life lately.

And when stuff goes wrong in each of our lives, we try to do something that calms us, that makes us feel better, and that just makes us relax so we don’t feel like a little speck.

Lately, that has been visits for me.

My friend, Jess, has been visiting me a lot more lately, and it has made me super excited and happy.

Jess... Being Jess.

Jess…being Jess

Jess is one of my best friends. She tends to be there to lend a shoulder, hand, or just make me laugh until various liquids come out my nostrils.

Jess and I star gazing!

Jess and I star gazing!

We recently came upon this road leading into my city that feels like you are on a giant roller coaster!

The ups and downs, making you feel like you are falling off the earth but then you carry on, then you keep moving forward, and keep grounded.

That is the kind of person Jess is – she can just make you feel like you are floating away but completely grounded all at the same time.

I know she comes here so she can escape, and so we can hang out, and I just love it and the adventures.

So here’s to Jess, my life’s roller coaster buddy… Wanna go for a drive?

~ Andreah

To all the firsts

Well, it’s been a long weekend and a lot has happened.

It was our Sophie’s Birthday as you all know, so as I do for all family stuff I made my way back to my sisters.

It took a lot to get there, and anything that could go wrong did; however, I made it. I got to come back and see most of my sisters.

My first sister-selfie!

My first sister-selfie!

(Jacqui, I missed you more than words can describe).

I also got to witness some firsts in our family. Sophie got her first two-wheeler bike (with training wheels) and Lillian got her first tricycle (!) and both were bittersweet.

The bikes!

The bikes!

Well, it is a double-edged sword, moving away. On one hand I get a clean slate in a new town, but I’m far away from my family.

I get to go on a new adventure, but have to sacrifice those precious moments with my family, especially those firsts.

I get to start something new and start a new life with Joe, and have cultivated a new sort of family, but I am missing out on some of the new experiences that come with being an aunt.

The real thing I want to tell you all is that I don’t regret moving away, and yeah it does suck the big one that I am missing moments, but Julia said something to me a couple years ago that stuck with me. She said, “I love that you are one of my girls’ people, but I worry that you aren’t living your own life.”

And it took me a while to realize that I wasn’t. I didn’t date, barely went out with friends, and I was in a slump. I have definitely changed a lot from that moment to now. It did not, whatsoever, have anything to do with hanging out with Julia. Nothing, and I love and cherish every single moment and memory from that time with them. I regret nothing. I was just hiding.

So I stopped. I started dating, eventually found Joe, found some amazing friends that have stuck by me constantly no matter what, and I am working on happiness every day.

I do miss out on some firsts, but then I am experiencing a lot of my own firsts, and there is yet again a bittersweet edge to all of this – I get to have firsts of my own, but I miss out on others.

I am relearning how to keep the balance of family, friends, and love. I am learning new patience with myself while I experience all of this and while it feels like I am on the edge of brand new experiences, I know I still have that anchor of my love for everyone that’s in my life, past and present.

I love you all! Thank you for being my compass, my anchor, an my driving force. And thank you for letting me be able to experience the firsts with all your love and support.

I can’t wait till I am back for the next new experience, but I also can’t wait to tell you guys all about my own next adventure.

~Andreah

Surprises of a stay-at-home mom

Before I had children, and knew everything (ha!), I had ideas about what stay-at-home parents did, what their houses looked like, and what their lives looked like. I also knew (ha!) that I’d never, ever become one. Ever. Never.

I went to a fancy university. I got a fancy (read: expensive) degree. I was a smart cookie. I had plans. I had ambitions. I had ideas. And I was stupid.

Fast forward through four pregnancies, three children, and years of being a stay-at-home mom to today, and let me tell you: I knew nothing. And I still know nothing.

I had some surprises when I became a stay-at-home parent and I thought I’d share them with you. So here, without further ado, are the 10 things that shocked the crap out of me when I became a stay-at-home mom:

1. My house will always be messy. If you do some quick math, I’m home from 10 until 3 every day. That’s five hours of prime cleaning time, you would think. But in reality, I do not have ‘free’ time from 10 until 3. I might have maybe 30 minutes of free time, maybe, and those minutes may not come all at once. They might come scattered throughout the day. So, while one would suppose (like I did before I took this gig) that I would have a magazine-worthy house, the fact of the matter is that there will always be floors to sweep, dishes to wash, toys to tidy, furniture to dust, windows to clean, toilets to scrub, and mirrors to shine. Always. It’s a horrible, self-perpetuating system that never ends.

2. The laundry will never be done. In therapy this week I was lamenting about the fact that my house is in constant chaos (see number 1) and that my laundry is never, ever ‘caught up’. One of the therapists (I had the pleasure of two at my last session!) said, “Unless you become nudists, that’s just the way it is.” She’s right. Even while I’m washing clothes, four other people besides myself are wearing clothes. Dirtying clothes is happening while I’m cleaning clothes. It’s just not fair. And it’s my reality.

3. I will not have a plan for every day. Somewhere in my ridiculous head I thought stay-at-home parents had some sort of social engagement calendar, filled with play dates, book clubs, leisurely coffees in shops, walks in the park pushing a  pram, library visits for grown-up books, or trips to the zoo, beach, fill-in-the-name-of-a-cool-place-here. So not the case. In fact, when we have a day where there isn’t a doctor’s appointment, a speech therapy appointment, groceries to fetch or errands to run, it’s blissful. It’s relaxing. It’s so much better than transporting all of the children with all of the things to the place that they’ll most likely destroy.

4. My kids will not do elaborate crafts every day. Or be enrolled in every play group or activity available to little people who aren’t in school. In fact, the moments where these things happen will be magic and the exception, and will be incredible and awesome, but will also be exhausting to coordinate, too expensive if they’re not free, and will wipe out any energy for anything else that week, making us yearn for days of nothing again (see number 3).

5. I will miss going to work. Before my last maternity leave from my last job, I couldn’t wait to stop working. To be at home and not have to get up with an alarm, or get dressed in fancy clothes and wear uncomfortable shoes, and eat lunch at a desk, and deal with the office politics that float in every workplace. But the reality of my day, complete with God-knows-what on my clothes, my hair looking like I’ve been run over by a tornado, and screaming children bouncing on me at 5:30 every. morning. there are some days, shockingly, that I dream of showering, brushing my teeth, going into work with clean, respectable clothing on, having structure to my day, performance reviews that don’t involve shrieking or temper tantrums, and a lunch where no one touches me. Some days having an out-of-the-house job sounds downright dreamy.

6. I will feel trapped sometimes. There seems to be such freedom for people who don’t have to work. But that’s just the thing: even though I don’t go anywhere, I still have to work. And my bosses don’t quit at 5 p.m. or stop sending demands outside of work hours. There are no such things as work hours. And so, some days, when my Monday looks like my Wednesday, which looks like my Saturday, it feels like I’m on a continuous loop with no end and no reprieve. Some days, there is nothing but boundary and restriction in my seemingly freedom-filled day.

7. I will wonder if I made the right decision. It’s a big decision to not return to work, to stay at home, and yet, for us, it was such a short conversation and it was made with very little debate or fuss. Ben and I talked about a few things: money that we would otherwise make, money we’d save if one of us stayed home, his career trajectory being able to recover in his industry versus mine after an extended absence, Lillian’s needs in terms of appointments at the children’s hospital an hour away, speech therapy weekly (at that time), and hearing aid/implant upkeep, and it just made sense: we needed someone to stay home and the person that it would work best for was me. Although logical, some days I wonder if everyone wouldn’t be happier, better off, our bank account less stressed out, if I were to just return to work. Some days.

8. I believe stay-at-home parents should be paid. I didn’t before. Because I didn’t recognize the magnitude of what they were doing and the positive effect they were having on their families by staying home. It’s a luxury in this day to stay home with your children. It shouldn’t have to be. It should be an option every family, whether single-parented or blended or couple-parented should have. It should be something that everyone has access too, not just the very rich. And let me say, we are not the very rich. I don’t know if we should get paid what people think we’re worth (like the infographic below argues), but I do think we should get something to make ends meet a little bit easier.

SAHM salary

No one is paying me this, let me tell you.

9. I don’t eat bon-bons and watch my stories. A little bit of me (okay, a lot a-bit-of-me) thought that stay-at-home parents had days like working people have when they call in sick – daytime TV, naps, lounging around in your pyjamas, eating because you’re bored, reading, playing video games, taking hot baths and going to bed early. Just like people who think having children is like having pets, I was mega-wrong. Even on days that Ben is home or someone is here helping me, my day doesn’t look anything like the sick days I had when I was in school or when we were just married.

10. I will work hard every day to stay present. It sounds like a fantasy, especially to a new mom or dad facing having to return to work: you get to stay home and watch your children grow up. You won’t miss the firsts that working parents might. You won’t miss out on milestones and you’ll have all the answers and know everything about your baby at appointments or when people ask. You’ll know you are your baby’s everything. The hard truth for me is that some days I want to be anywhere but here. That not every day is a monumental day that I give thanks for because I got to witness the first crawl, the first step, the first word, the first poop in the potty. That some days are bad or boring. Some days nothing happens at all, the minutes crawl by, and there is no end to the poop in the potty. Some days suck. But I know that this gift, this luxury, is a once-in-a-lifetime. That our babies will never be this age again, that I will never have this much access again. That I have a gift that Ben does not. That being home is a blessing. And I will work every day, even those crappy ones, to remember that. And I will accept that some days it will be impossible to remember. But most days it will be the thing that gets us through.

~ Julia